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AL: Bosox keep the bubbly waiting

Wire services
Published September 25, 2003

BOSTON - Any plans the Red Sox had for a postgame celebration were put on ice during an ugly first inning Wednesday night.

Needing a win to clinch their first playoff berth in four years, the Red Sox trailed by seven before coming to bat and the Baltimore Orioles went on to a 7-3 victory.

"We felt like we were going to have a party here" after Seattle's loss to Anaheim reduced Boston's magic number to one, Johnny Damon said.

But the Orioles had fun as Tony Batista hit a grand slam and Pat Hentgen pitched six strong innings to delay Boston's clinching of a wild-card berth.

"We want to play and play well and make them earn it if they're going to clinch it," Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove said. "Beyond that, we wanted to win the ballgame for ourselves."

Especially after Tuesday night's 6-5 loss, when Todd Walker's three-run homer tied the score with two outs in the ninth and David Ortiz's homer won it in the 10th.

"It's a clean slate the next day," Hargrove said.

Just as it was for the Red Sox.

"We don't have too much hangover, not in an emotional win and loss," Boston manager Grady Little said. "We just got off on the wrong foot there and it didn't get any better."

Boston clinched at least a tie for the wild card when Seattle lost. For the Red Sox to miss the playoffs, they would have to lose their final four and Seattle would have to sweep a three-game series against Oakland, then beat Boston in a tiebreaker playoff.

The Red Sox get another chance to clinch tonight in the finale of the four-game series.

"It's exciting when it's in front of you," Boston catcher Jason Varitek said. "We have to concentrate on what we have to do and that wasn't the case today."

Ortiz continued his slugging with two homers, giving him three in 10 pitches and 31 for the season.

Hentgen allowed three runs and six hits. He was replaced by Hector Carrasco with two outs in the seventh after Ortiz's second homer and Gabe Kapler's run-scoring single.

ANGELS 4, MARINERS 0: John Lackey pitched a five-hitter and rookie Tom Gregorio had a two-run single as host Anaheim pushed Seattle to the brink of postseason elimination.

The Mariners lost for the seventh time in 11 games.

Lackey struck out four and walked two in his second complete game this season. He had lost his previous three starts and five of six.

Gil Meche pitched because Ryan Franklin had a stiff neck and allowed three runs and six hits in five innings.

WHITE SOX 9, YANKEES 4: Esteban Loaiza became the fifth 20-game winner in the majors and host Chicago roughed up Mike Mussina, whose second bid for his 200th career victory was ruined when he gave up eight runs in the sixth.

Jose Valentin hit a three-run homer and Carlos Lee drove in two in the big inning. The White Sox had nine hits in the sixth, their most for an inning this season.

TWINS 3, INDIANS 2: Michael Cuddyer hit a tiebreaking home run in the eighth and Central champion Minnesota won its 11th straight game.

A day after clinching the division title, the Twins won their team-record 13th in a row at home. Their next game at the Metrodome will be Oct. 4, Game 3 in the first round of the playoffs.

A'S 5, RANGERS 3: Jose Guillen, playing with a broken bone in his left hand, hit a two-run homer and bunted home the go-ahead run to lead host Oakland. Tim Hudson pitched seven solid innings as Athletics manager Ken Macha rested most of his regulars.

TIGERS 4, ROYALS 3: Detroit remained two losses short of the modern record, beating host Kansas City as Shane Loux earned his first major-league victory.

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